The majority of businesses in the UK are “not even close to being ready for a no-deal” Brexit, according to the BBC’s Newsnight.
Figures seen by the BBC suggest that less than 10% of applicable businesses have applied for HMRC’s Transitional Simplified Procedures scheme. HMRC launched the scheme in February to help make imports and customs smoother in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The scheme would allow companies to import goods from Europe without filing new customs declarations and postpone import tariffs by up to a year.
An estimated 240,000 businesses across the UK are understood to require TSP status, but the figures seen by Newsnight indicate that less than 18,000 had applied by 26 May.
Matt Griffith of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce said: “The TSP data is terrible.
“The top level lesson is that most small firms are not even close to being ready for a No Deal scenario.”
An HMRC spokesperson said: “HMRC has well-developed plans in place to ensure the UK will have functioning tax and customs processes for UK-EU trade in the event of no deal.
“Many businesses have already registered with HMRC as international traders – accounting for around two thirds of the trade carried out by UK VAT registered businesses that only trade with the EU.
“HMRC’s plans include actions and easements to ensure that as many traders as possible are ready on day one to keep trading.”
On Wednesday, the Financial Times published a note leaked from the Cabinet which revealed ministers have been warned that traders will require “at least four to five months” before they are prepared for new border checks. The note also showed that ministers are considering “financial incentives to encourage exporters and importers to register for new schemes”.